January 9, 2006 Leave a comment
I got a handful of thank-yous and compliments on my Mises.org stewardess article, as well as the usual Marxoid dissents from the Left for daring to imply that deregulation was a good thing, but mostly I got complaints from the Right that I was blaming the free market for the crimes of feminism, unions, and anti-discrimination lawsuits.
To one fellow who challenged what he believed was my claim that airline deregulation has made the industry efficient, I replied:
Deregulation is relative. We certainly didn’t get a free market in air travel. In fact, I’d argue that the airlines weren’t deregulated, but just decartelized. Competition introduced greater efficiency, but when the federal government is willing to bail out failing airlines, municipal governments run the airports themselves as mixed economies, unions continue to enjoy political privilege at the expense of consumers and property owners, and practically everything that isn’t regulated is subject to lawsuits that have nothing to do with contract, we’re nowhere close to seeing what the discipline of a free market would produce.
I never meant to suggest that the status quo is efficient or just, only better than what went before. And only in some respects.
To those who claimed I was too soft on politically privileged feminism, I ended up using the same reply, slightly modified for context. Its basic form:
I’m confident unions and lawsuits have plenty to do with it. But they are also the answers everyone seems to know. The phenomenon no doubt has multiple contributing causes, and I wanted to focus on the one I never heard anyone (other than Tom DiLorenzo) talk about.
Walter Block, whose claim that I had only covered half the story was by far the most diplomatic of that batch, ended up giving the perfect summary, I think:
“The price fixing was responsible for hiring pretty stews in the first place, the anti-discrimination laws for not allowing them to be fired as they got older.”
That’s why he’s a famous Austro-libertarian scholar and I’m not.